''LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY''
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A new year will soon be beginning. Who would have thought this time last year that we would have had the year we have had? Life is often like that, I think. So often when life seems to be going along just fine the unexpected happens. Maybe we experience the loss of a loved one, become sick, face a job loss or as we all have been these last few months, get caught up in something so big and out of our control.
In today's scripture we read about Joseph, so often given little attention in the Christmas story. For a moment just imagine. He probably had his life planned, nothing out of the ordinary; get married, have a family just like most of his friends and then... he definitely would not be expecting to hear that he was to become a crucial part in God's plan, visited by an angel no less.
His yes to God would bring him some difficulties. In obedience he went against social norms, had to flee the country and he was not to have the life he almost certainly thought he would have.
In some ways we all have the experience of our lives being turned upside down at one time or another.
Sometimes we are to learn to trust Him in those times, sometimes he diverts us from our own thinking and plans to bring about his plans. His voice we often fail to hear in the noisiness of our life but it is worth listening out for, who knows what he wants to say to us. Joseph needed an angel to give him the message but we have the Holy Spirit that can whisper quietly to us and guide us down God given paths.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!
You know, we have so much to be thankful for yet it is so easy for us to focus on the negative.
Last evening on the way home I felt an acute awareness of being separated from family and so many friends; the full moon was shining so brightly and it occurred to me that although we were all far apart we could all be actually looking at that same beautiful orb in the sky. It gave me comfort to know that.
It gave me thought to our connections with each other. Most of us will have a common link with St. Francis Church but is there more than that?.......Yes .... When we became followers of the Lord we became family; brothers and sisters in Christ. As in most families there will be differences of opinion and outlooks on life but because of Christ we are irrevocably joined together in Him and we learn to love and live with each other despite our differences. God's love for us is without measure, and that love takes account of our shortcomings and in the same way we too can learn to be tolerant and forgiving.
I hope and pray that you have been blessed this Christmas time.
For some people it will be a relief that it is all over, for some there will be sadness and for others it was just another holiday and time away from the normal hum drum of life.
As Christians we know that it is not all over...... the great event of Jesus coming into the world changed everything, forever.
In a few days' time we will be packing away our decorations and nativity scene for another year.
We cannot pack Jesus away. He is as much alive today as he was when he first came to earth; he lives on in our hearts and through the Holy Spirit he speaks to us, encourages us and brings meaning to our lives.
For all the many Christmas greetings which the church and I have received, thank you so much. It has been a great encouragement to us to know that you are thinking and praying for us.
Please continue in your prayers for the sick especially Margaret, Carol and Petrina
Today we generally think of it as Boxing day, although that maybe a very English thing. It is the day after we have celebrated the birth of Jesus; God come into the world. I expect all of us have a similar nativity scene in our homes, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, kings, angel, cattle and sheep. It embraces the whole story but of course from what the scriptures say that was the never the scene. Shepherds and Kings did not bow down before Jesus together. There is a lot we don't really know. How long did they stay in the stable, was it even a stable? Did Joseph find them somewhere more suitable for a new mother and baby, did his family take them in? Some scholars think they stayed in Bethlehem for 11 days, 40 days, others two years or even four.
The place of the birth of Jesus was never as static as how we have made it. It was a 'passing place' ; the shepherds came and went, the kings also, Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not remain there. It was a place where a spectacular thing happened but for those involved at the time and now for us there was and is a moving on. The shepherds went on to proclaim what they saw and heard, the Kings journeyed on subverting Herod's plans, Mary and Joseph fulfilled the reason why they were there and went on to raise Jesus.
We are in a passing place now. Our earthly life is our temporary home, we move through it, fulfilling all that we are called to be and do. We cannot, we must not remain in the stable however beautiful it is. We have been given the wonderful gift of Jesus, let us unwrap the gift and all it entails and live our new life in Him.
So.... that which we have been looking forward to is nearly here. I don't know about you but I often find myself looking ahead, thinking of times to come, plans, schedules and the like. As we come now to the wonder of the birth of Jesus perhaps it is the time to stop, reflect, ponder these things in our hearts(as did Mary) and consider what they mean to us today.
Are we still thrilled and excited in our walk with the Lord, are we still as devoted, are we doing all that we are commanded to do?That day, when Mary birthed Jesus it was a new start for the world; although most did not know it. Each day can be a fresh start for us too, today we can recommit ourselves to service for the Lord.
When I was young, my Mommar often said ' it's a great life if you don't weaken'. Although there is some truth to that, for us as Christians the truth is, even though we may weaken the Lord is there is to strengthen us again and again, to help us see again the wonder of Him who was born that day so long ago.
I wish you all a blessed and happy Christmas
God is with us! At this time of the year, the focus for many will be the life changing events when Jesus came into the world as a baby. It won't just be Christians who will ponder and give thought to what the season is all about. In each person the Lord has created a space for him, a place where we can get to know him. For some they were guided to recognise that place of communion with Him by the prophets, some by an angel, some by a star, some by scripture and some by the testimony of others. Each of us will have a different story to tell.
It is wonderful promise that those who seek him will surely find him and He will not hide his face from us. God is already preparing hearts to accept Jesus; we must be ready to point the way too. If we have found the Saviour, we have received a precious gift which we can share.
Among all the tinsel and bright lights, Jesus the real light of the world comes to us and all people.
Do continue in your prayers for the sick and for those who are struggling with being separated from family and friends.
The day dawns bright again today, that alone cheers the soul. I wonder how many of you have white hair like me, I wonder are you happy with it. It seems that often society doesn't value what might be considered old. Certainly, and maybe rightly younger people hold sway (but maybe not entirely as the US have just elected an older president.)
Interestingly in the bible the Lord has used both the very young and the very old to bring about his purposes. In today's scripture we have been given the promise that God is with us and for us from our birth to our old age (possibly with white hair) That is very comforting to know that God values us whatever age we are and that we can be of use. There is a couple, who I won't name who regularly come to our church. They are well into their eighties and still regularly go to the Holy Land supporting initiatives to help orphans. Who says age is a barrier?, not God.
We have got very used to hearing the Christmas story and we could probably give a good rendition of it; sometimes that can take away the impact of that special time in the history of humanity and God's interaction with us.
We all, I am sure have had major events in our lives; marriages, births, celebrations, illness and even deaths which have been unforgettable and life changing. Not many of us have had an angelic visitation. For those shepherds what happened on that night was to change them, that would be an event never to be forgotten. They could not help but go out and tell others what they had seen and heard. Some of us will recall clearly when we first made a commitment to following Jesus, for some it has been a life time, gradual journey into understanding and walking with him. Whichever way we have come to this point matters not, if we love Jesus and name him as Lord and Saviour, we are a new creation. That is one major event. We have been changed and will continue to be changed. Our story is important and it is important that we tell it; we are part of God's plan in redeeming the world. Yes, he could do it without us but he chooses to use us in spreading the Good News. Let us go out as the shepherds did and tell everyone what we know, how God has worked in our lives and how he can work in their lives too.
I started to get the Christmas feeling, today too when our own little nativity scene was brought out for display.
The Christmas story was probably taught to you and certainly me when you were young by a trusted Sunday school teacher. Over the years for most of us we have sat under the ministry and teaching of priests and ministers who have taught us the faith, bit by bit we have learnt more about the Lord and how we can live a fruitful Christian life. That is very valuable. At the moment the world can seem a very confusing place. The news is often confusing and contradictory. The scriptures and the Holy Spirit tell us that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. Anything else is not from him. When we feel confused and anxious the best antidote is to go back to what we know for sure; Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and we can trust Him. We can recall that which we have been taught from faithful and trustworthy leaders and teachers. We can live in the present; (sufficient to the day is the evil therein) no point in worrying about tomorrow. A couple of days ago I start to listen to an American preacher; I start to feel disturbed in my Spirit. Warning bells rang, the Lord does not cause that in us and so I switched it off. There has always been those around who do not preach the Gospel and lead people astray intentionally or otherwise. It is wise to test everything; does it line up with scripture, what you know and have been taught? Not sure? ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.
Most of you will be aware that new regulations for Tenerife came in force Friday Midnight. We have checked and there are no alterations for churches. Travelling for the purpose of worship is permissible. We look forward to seeing you, if you are able on Sunday.
This is the time of year when belief and faith come into focus not only for Christians but for non-believers as well. Everywhere springing up are decorations and pointers to the coming event of Christmas, the coming event of the Christ child being born. They are asking the question 'what do we believe, what do we have faith in' Each must make their own mind up about that.
I often ask myself what is faith, what is my faith. For me faith is more than a prescribed set of creeds, good that they are. It is more about believing in the trustworthiness of God. Is God going to see me through, is He going to be with me in all that I face in life?
Faith is a gift but we have to grow it too. We are like baby birds that have to leave the nest. It is imperative for each bird to stand on the edge, jump off and trust in as yet unused wings. God will be constantly presenting before us opportunities to have faith; he wants us to grow in faith.
Now of course we could just sit in the nest and not make that flight of faith but we would never experience the thrill of flying and all that the world has on offer. As each opportunity comes let us try out the wings; believe that all will be well, that God is good and that we can trust in Him for now and forever.
I am not in prison, I am not hungry, I am not cold , I have clothes to wear, I have a home, I have friends and family. What more could I reasonably ask for? Last night when I heard of the new restrictions being enforced in Tenerife, for a while I forgot all that. Earlier in the day I had gone walking in the hills of Los Vegas with friends. It was a good three hour walk which we had done lots of times before but strangely I couldn't remember it all. Just when I thought the trek upwards was over, a corner was turned and another upward path was before us. That is how it felt in the evening when I heard the news. I was being presented with another mountain to climb. I felt quite dejected at the thought of what was coming. I started to think what was to be the right attitude about it and it came to mind that we were to pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. I considered if I could actually give thanks. I don't know what God's plan is , I don't know how He will work it all out but I do know that God is with us in it.
Yes, this was not a great news day but I still had plenty to praise God for and give Him thanks.
As followers of Jesus, it is inevitable that we are going to have problems and difficulties. It is in those times God wants us to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. That walk becomes easier when we remember all that we have been given in life, not only physical comforts but in the spiritual tools that are supplied for our benefit. Thankfulness, praise and prayer are what will get us through.
As we approach Christmas, we hear words that aren't used much in general conversation such as Joy. We sing Carols like Joy to the world the Saviour comes. Christians and none Christians alike enjoy the feeling of goodwill and hope that they bring. Even using the word joy lifts our spirits.
I was talking with a friend a few days ago about the dispositions we often have. Miserable and negative seemed to be the default position for many. As Christians that should never be said of us. It is not about being happy or sad, that can be said of us all at times; we have been given something much more than those emotions which is deep down Joy. That is a gift to us from our Father. When we come into the presence of our God and Saviour, remembering his goodness, we cannot help but feel joy. Often tiredness can dim our joy so if that happens take a rest, sit in the presence of the Almighty, He will renew your strength and fill you once again with all joy and peace in believing so that you by the power of the Holy Spirit may abound in hope.
A little update on Margaret......she remains at home resting and building up her strength and is aware and grateful for your good wishes and prayers.
It will not be long now before we arrive at the great celebration of the birth of our Saviour Jesus. We are waiting.
It seems so often we have to wait; we wait for special days, we wait for prayers to be answered, we wait for health to be restored, we wait for holidays, we wait for the pandemic to end, we wait for a new heaven and a new earth....we wait. One might wonder why we have to wait, what we wish for is perfectly good and acceptable isn't it? Sometimes our wishes and wants, although are absolutely fine they may not be in line with God's timing. In the meanwhile, we have to learn to trust, have patience and be ready for the answer to come. Waiting on answers to prayer sometimes is frustrating, of course we want it now but time gives God a chance to work in peoples' lives, to bring about what is the best.
'Soon' is often mentioned in the bible but as we know it isn't quite the same as our soon. Ours is almost immediate but with God it could be 40 years in the desert as with Moses or 13 years in prison for Joseph. They had to wait but in the waiting they were still blessed by God and found favour with him. So, as we wait, let us learn lessons of patience, good attitude and helping others, they will be acceptable in His sight.
Yesterday the 13th I had cause to look back, in fact 50 years back. It seems quite unbelievable that 50 years ago I had my first baby, Rachel. I remember very clearly how I felt on that day.
I was a new young mother, perhaps not as young as Mary though. I was so happy and excited and fell immediately in love with this tiny, beautiful baby. I was also a little afraid; how was I going to look after her, what did I know about babies ? however, she survived! Perhaps Mary felt some of the same things. Anyway, yesterday I thought about Mary and the great part she played in the story of our salvation. What struck me about today's scripture was the words 'she found favour with God'. She is an example of obedience and surrender to the will of God. She wasn't the only one who did that of course; there were many others like Joseph the dreamer, Elizabeth and of course Jesus. If you remember in the garden of gethsemane he said ' ' My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me ; yet not what I want but what you want'.
He yielded to the Father's will and it became the path of Glory.
All those who have experienced God in mighty ways will have walked on difficult paths, they will have learned the way of humility , self-control and often the discipline of waiting on the Lord. He sees what we do in love. He saw Mary's heart and that she was ready to accept His purposes for her life. Perhaps we need to ask the question are we ready to receive the blessing of being Highly favoured.
Last night on the way home from an evening out, the night sky was so clear, absolutely beautiful and full of stars. The Graham Kendick song came to mind with the line 'he threw stars into space'. God creating the stars is in the very first chapter of the bible and are mentioned several times in the last book of the bible, Revelation. When I looked for the references, I was surprised to find them having a mention dozens of times in the scriptures. We are coming to the time of the year when one star features very prominently in the Christmas story. The Magi are shown the way to the place of the Messiah's birth. Imagine if you can the awesomeness of being able to do that. God from the very beginning had a plan for the world; a Christmas waiting to come into being with shepherds, magi, a mother and a Christ child.
Just as we are part of His creation, we are also part of His plan. We each are an important and vital piece of the whole and created for a purpose. As a child of God, we must listen and discern what it is we are required to do; each of our parts cannot be played by another.
Yesterday was an interesting day with our Diocesan Synod. We had the new Archbishop of York Steven Cotterel and our own Bishops Robert and David as speakers. Although the pandemic has rather slowed life down for many it certainly did not seem that way for leaders of The Church of England. It was exciting to hear of the work that has been undertaken on behalf of us all, which will no doubt will be rolled out to all the churches in due course. Speaking of 'being rolled out'...in our scripture reading today, that is exactly what Jesus was doing as he read from the Hebrew text in his local synagogue. Very plainly he was telling the listeners what his vision, his mission was. In this his inaugural speach they heard that he had come to serve both the spiritually poor and the socially poor. His hope was for a restored humanity.
That mission has been passed on to us. We have been given the light to pass on to others, we are to stand with the oppressed and the poor, seeking justice for all. It is worked out in the many ways of being his 'church'. We must continue to look outside of ourselves and our needs to assist the needy and on a bigger scale we must pray and campaign for social justice in the world.
Synod continues today; hold us in your prayers as the life and witness of the Church is discussed.
We are slowing moving through Advent, beginning to focus now on the coming of the Prince of peace as a baby. Peace can be a difficult concept; many have written about it both in a Christian sense and from a world's point of view of needing peace. It has been said that peace is not just the absence of war and that has to be true. I have been considering peace though as a concept in our lives. Jesus promised peace. He said those words to disciples who were to experience a time of great loss, they would be afraid and life was not going to be a walk in the woods. Yet those were His words and He never promised anything which couldn't be delivered. When life is quietly moving along and all seems well for us it is easy to find peace; finding a quiet spot, a time of communion with God can bring us that feeling of peace. I believe though that we can find peace even in the midst of trouble, when all about us is in disarray, when we don't know the way forward the Lord can settle our hearts and fill us with a peace that passes all understanding. We can be grounded and centred in the Prince of Peace when we come to Him both in good and hard times.
Today we have the Diocesan Synod by Zoom . Please keep us in your prayers together with those who may be struggling at the moment.
People say we are in strange times and perhaps we are, maybe each generation feels the same. It seems if we look back in history even in quite recent history the world has had its problems; governments and people alike have found themselves confused about what is the right way forward. As Christians we do not have to just rely on our own knowledge and understanding; we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. Of course, we have to ask in prayer and that can often be where we fall down. We fail to pray and often fail to listen. It is a discipline that doesn't always come easily for there are lots of distractions in our lives. I do believe though that the more we attune ourselves to hear from God the easier it will be for us to be affective witnesses, as it is promised that He will give us the words to speak. It is also our duty to pray for world leaders whether we agree with their polices or not. We can make a difference.
We are called to love each other in more than just words but in truth and action. Is that too much to ask of us? I don't think so because God is love and we are made in his image. That has to be more than a great start. We don't always live up to that commandment but because we have been reborn, God is within us and now working through us, it is now in our nature. We may at times squash that down and deny what now is our new fundamental nature but God will have his way. He is renewing and transforming us day by day and each time we live out the call to love one another we become more like Him and closer to fulfilling the commandment which will change the world.
Yesterday in the church service I was struck by the word consolation. I had previously had a connection in my mind to that word with a consolation prize, a second best, a something that you got when you didn't win. It was a lot more comforting and strong word than that in the scriptures. This morning I looked the word up to see how it has been used in the bible. It is of course scattered both in the old and new testaments. There is the consolation, the comfort that comes from the Lord and there is the consolation, the comfort we can give to others.Jeremiah, the prophet was speaking on behalf of God calling the nation, the people to repentance and a way back to a right relationship with him. God is still seeking that for everyone. We too as Christians can be a source of hope and comfort to others; as we have received so can we give.My mind has been changed about that word. God is the first prize and his consolation is not a second best, with Him we have won.
Please continue in your prayers for those who are sick.
Can you imagine that you are just going about your daily life and doing your job, when suddenly your life is changed completely? Had that jailer heard about God's redeeming love before the earthquake ? Did he know why Paul and Silas were in prison ? Paul just couldn't help preaching whenever and wherever so maybe he did know. Whatever, it took that earth quake for the jailor to wake up to what God had on offer and what he needed to do. It showed me that the Lord will use whatever means it takes to open our eyes to the Gospel. It also reminded me God can use us regardless of what our situation is. ( prison bars didn't stop Paul being useful ) The gospel was in his heart and he ready to proclaim it.
Yesterday something spectacular happened around Tejina; dozens of paragliders appeared in the sky. Normally we perhaps would get the occasional one or two, so to see this many was unusual. It made me think about how they move about on the wind currents but still have some control about where they go and of course land. I believe it is the same for us and our relationship with the Holy Spirit. He takes us where he wants us to go but, in the end, we still are having control over what happens. It is up to us how much we allow the Holy Spirit to direct and influence our lives. The results of allowing Him to change and direct us it that we will produce the fruits of the Spirit which is not only good for us but to those around us.
Please do continue to remember Margaret and Carole Hart in your prayers and for all who are also sick.
I wonder if we had the choice of knowing what was ahead of us in life, we would want to know. For some it might bring a sense of security or at least a time to prepare, get ready for what is to come. For others that would be a little too scary. Actually, the scriptures say don't worry about tomorrow , sufficient to the day is the evil therein, today is the day of salvation, do not be afraid for I am with you till the end of time and many more.
The disciples were aware that Jesus would not be long with them, Jesus himself knew that separation and persecution was to follow, in fact it already had begun but he wanted them to have peace in their hearts whatever was to come. Nothing has changed; he wants us to have peace whatever circumstances we find ourselves, in whatever the future holds for us. He has overcome the world and in Him so have we.
I hope you are all remaining well. It is Advent so lots of favourite verses are coming around. Today's scripture we know so well but there is a lot to it. Jesus is escribed various names and I was thinking about 'Everlasting Father' . It is hard to imagine what everlasting actually looks like. We are so used to living in a world of expiry date, best before, sell by date, end of book, appliances wearing out, end of work, even end of life etc etc. that we are not accustomed to things that will last for ever. We can hardly imagine it and really quite often we are pleased that things do come to an end. It will be quite different though to be with Jesus forever; there will be no anxiety, worry, pain or any of the things we can gladly do without. With Jesus as our Everlasting Father, we will have endless joy and complete contentment in His presence.
Margaret arrived home late yesterday and will now be resting for a while. Please continue to pray for her.
I am sure you will all be pleased to hear that Margaret is being discharged today to await an operation in the next few weeks. Please pray for her full recovery. She won’t be quite up to visitors for the time being but I will keep you posted. She sends her thanks and best wishes to you all.
Part of today’s scripture is often misquoted as ‘money is the root of all evil’ when it is really ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with money. Much good can be done with it. Only when it gets out of proportion in our lives and takes too big a precedence that it becomes a problem. As Christians we can have faith that the Lord will provide for all our needs so in a sense that concern can be put aside, we can then put our minds to more spiritual matters. God wants us to find contentment and satisfaction in Him, ....it is on offer to those who desire it.
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Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Father God, we give you thanks for all who have gone before us and have obeyed your commands; even in the face of persecution, public disgrace, or death. Give us Grace, that we too, on hearing your voice will willingly do as you desire, fulfilling our part in proclaiming your Gospel; bringing justice, peace and goodwill on the earth. In our weakness give us your strength and in our fear give us courage. Amen.
Now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Father God, we give thanks that you only look at us through the eyes of love and all are valued and equal in your sight. As brothers and sisters in Christ, let there be real love shared among us and let that love shine forth as a witness in the world of the transforming power of life in Christ. May any scales of prejudice or bias fall from our eyes, that we like you, will look with eyes and hearts of love on all with whom we share the world. Amen
He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Father Almighty, in your love you sent Jesus into the world for us and all people. The depth of that love we can only imagine; we forever will give you thanks for being the author of our lives and salvation. As He lived and died proclaiming your truth, giving you his Father all the glory, may our daily lives proclaim Him who came to earth as a baby, lived as a man and died on a cross in obedience to you, his Father and for us and the life of the world. Amen.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2: 15-20
Loving God and Father, for us you sent a Saviour. Though we merited nothing you gave us everything. We praise and glorify you. You speak your words of love through the angel, the shepherds, through the birth of a small baby; help us to hear you through the nativity story of long ago and make it real for us today. Give us Grace to live out the gift of eternal life given to us. Amen
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2 :1- 7
Father Almighty, we remember with thanksgiving the events of long ago which caused our Saviour Jesus Christ to be brought into the world. For those who were obedient to your call;Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi we give thanks. We pray that hearts will see beyond the nativity scene of baby in a manger, surrounded by adoring faces, to an event that changed the world and continues to send out the message of salvation to all who will receive it. Amen
Thus says the Lord: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Father God, we thank you. In you we have hope, you hear us when we pray and you have not hidden yourself from us. For wasted years when we have not sought your face and your will, we are sorry. May we seek after you with all our hearts and minds and know your peace and grace in our lives. Amen.
“Listen to me, all Israel who are left; I have created you and cared for you since you were born. I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Saviour.
Isaiah 46:2-6 NLT
Father of all, you have known and loved us from our birth; we give you thanks that you have cared for us and sustained through our lives. For the times we went astray and cared not for you we are sorry. Let our risen Saviour become more real to us in the ordinary, the difficult and the joyful times of our living. May our lives honour you even to the last day of our earthly lives. Amen
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
Father God, we thank you for Jesus, we thank you for angels who proclaimed the good news, for the obedience of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the magi and all those who heard your voice and played their unique part in the story of salvation. Help to look afresh, with new eyes and hearts at the Christmas story. May the events that took place in a small country far away, reverberate in our hearts and cause us, like the shepherds to make known the Good news to all who would hear. Amen
We can say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”
Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.
Father God, we give you thanks for those who have taught us to have faith and trust in you and that it is by Grace alone that we are strengthened. Protect us Lord from false teaching or that which would cause confusion in our lives. May we be to each other examples of Godly living, encouraging one another in the faith, supporting each other in times of trouble and giving Glory to you in all our deeds. Amen
Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Almighty Father, you sent your Son Jesus to walk the earth so that all might believe. Some saw you and believed others did not. We give you thanks that you have opened our hearts to belief and trust in Him who has the power to save. Give us faith to continue in that belief, doing your will until at the last, we will stand with all who have been given the crown of Glory and be in your presence. Amen.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Lord God, we have much to give you thanks for; in you we are sustained and we find hope and joy. Forgive us when we forget your loving providence towards us. Teach us to be thankful where ever we find ourselves whether our lives are easy or challenging. We know that you are walking by our side and hear the prayers of our hearts. May praises always be on our lips as we recall your love and mercy towards us. Amen
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; and again Isaiah says,“The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Father God, you have sent Jesus as the redeemer of the world for which we give you thanks and praise. In Him we have found the pearl of great price, the one who gives us joy everlasting. May we always sing your praises, give thanks in all things, have hope for the day and find comfort and strength in the salvation which is your gift to us. Amen
In accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
2 Peter 3:13-15
Father of all time and space, your ways and purposes we do not understand completely but we put our trust in you. Give us peace in our hearts as we wait for your plans to unfold. Forgive us for the times we are hasty and want to run ahead of your perfect timing. Teach us your patience in our daily lives that we may grow evermore into the likeness of our Saviour. Amen
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
Almighty God and Father, we give you thanks for all who follow and obey your call. We thank you for the obedience of Mary who became the Christ bearer. May we who have the Christ within us listen for your voice, follow the paths of righteousness and humility. In our weakness and failings but in your strength, may we go forth shining as a light in the world, Amen
God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
Creator God, how magnificent is your handiwork. You threw the stars into space and kept them here, you alone cause all things to be made and have their being. We thank you that you have designed us to be part of your creation, part of your everlasting and eternal plan. Direct us in the path each of us must follow, show us the way to live which is acceptable in your eyes and may gratitude ever sing in our hearts for the privilege of being your children. Amen
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Father of All, your plans for the world are being worked out from generation to generation. Through your patriarchs and prophets you have made your self known; through Jesus you have shown us the way of salvation, through the Holy Spirit and the scriptures you continue to guide us. We praise you for your all encompassing love for us. As we continue to follow Jesus may we lives honour him and reflect his values of hope, justice for all, standing with the poor and oppressed. Amen
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. John 14 25
Father Almighty, you sent Jesus to show us the way. He has promised us peace in all our circumstances; He promised a different life. Though we struggle to hold hold on to his words and promises, we believe. In the midst of our doubts and unbelief we cling to you. Comfort our soul when peace escapes us, make us brave when we are afraid and fill us with love when it alludes us. Amen
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should. Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Father God, we come to you with thanksgiving in our hearts, for you are ever available to us, to bring our needs and cares before your throne. Forgive us for the many times we have failed to ask you for Godly wisdom and for the times of missed opportunity when we could have spoken of you but didn't. May the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts always be acceptable in your sight. Cause us O Lord to be faithful in prayer for each other and for those who do not know you. Amen
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.
1 John 3:18-23
Father God, we give thanks for your precious Holy Spirit who quickens our spirit and reminds us that we are made in your image, belong to you, and are designed for your purposes. As we follow the Way, commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ may we live out our lives in truth and sincerity, working for your Kingdom and giving all Glory to you. When our thoughts and actions fall short of what is worthy, forgive us and set us once more on the path of righteousness. Amen
With weeping they shall come,and with consolations I will lead them back,I will let them walk by brooks of water,in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;for I have become a father to Israel,and Ephraim is my firstborn.Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,and declare it in the coastlands far away;say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.
Father God, you are both our joy and our comfort. In you we trust. May you hand guide us through life; that we may walk on smooth paths and be refreshed by the living water.Let our hearts forever sing your praises and our gratitude echo far and wide that all may know of your timeless goodness to us. Amen.
Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
Father God, your desire is for all people to be reconciled to you and that no one should be lost. We pray for opportunities where we can show love, speak Gospel words that have the power to save and show the same mercy and kindness as you have already given us. Give us true compassion, an unselfish heart and words, not our own but yours, that others might see a glimpse of you in us and be drawn into your loving embrace. Amen
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Father God, we thank you for the Holy Spirit which dwells within us. We praise you that you are bringing about in us all that is good and worthy and will cause us to live fruitful lives. Forgive us for the times we have chosen to not follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and live our old lives. Give us hearts and minds that only seek you and your ways. Amen
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
Almighty Father, we give thanks, that as your never left or forsook Jesus you will never leave us also. Help us to hold on to your promises which are trustworthy and true and bring us peace and confidence. Be with us each day, each step in the journey of our lives, what ever it may bring, knowing that you are our shield and defence. Amen
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Gracious Father, how can we thank you enough for your precious gift of Jesus to us?There is nothing more that we can ask, for in Him all our needs are met. We give you endless praise for loving us so much that you spare us nothing. May we never forget the wonderful gift you have given. Forgive us for the times we foolishly choose to put other worldly concerns before our walk with our Lord and Saviour. Renew our hearts we pray. Amen
There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Father God, we give you thanks for providing us with all our needs and we that lack no good thing in our lives. Help us not to live by the world's standard of richness, for in you we are rich beyond measure and can find true contentment. May our heart's desire be to become more like our Saviour Jesus, living a Godly and righteous life. Amen.